Tragedy unfolded in Amarillo, Texas, on Monday when four children reportedly died from accidental pesticide gas poisoning. In addition, six other people were hospitalized in connection with the unthinkable event. Authorities believe that the poisonous gas was created when someone unwittingly tried to wash away some pesticide that had previously been sprayed under the trailer home with water.
According to Amarillo fire officials, water being mixed with the pesticide resulted in the release of highly-toxic Phosphine gas, which apparently overcame the occupants of the trailer. As Fox News reports, a visitor to the home Monday morning apparently arrived to find everyone inside sick, and that person called 911. When first responders arrived at around 5:00 a.m., they thought that they were dealing with a case of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Further investigation resulted in the discovery of the pesticide gas, which is believed to have killed the four Texas children.
Amarillo fire Capt. Larry Davis released a statement regarding the tragedy, telling the media and public that one of the four children died at the scene, while three others passed away at a local hospital. With regard to the other six victims of the pesticide gas poisoning, earlier Monday they were reportedly “not out of the woods yet.”
By Monday evening, however, the Amarillo-Globe News reported that five of the Texas pesticide gas poisoning victims have been upgraded to stable condition. The sixth was reportedly transported to a medical facility in Lubbock.
Investigators say that they are unsure how long the four deceased children, as well as the rest of the occupants of the trailer, were exposed to the deadly pesticide gas before help arrived. Symptoms of inhaling Phosphine gas include respiratory failure and even the filling of the lungs with fluid, otherwise known as pulmonary edema.
Initially, authorities did not release information about the four children who died as a result of the Texas pesticide poisoning incident. However, it has since been reported that the four Texas children who died are among eight siblings who lived in the trailer. The names of the deceased children have not been made available.
According to the fire department, the aluminum phosphide-containing pesticide has been was identified as Weevil-Cide, used to “protect against the most destructive pests, such as grain-boring insects, moths, weevils, beetles, and burrowing rodents.”
The product was apparently sprayed by a resident of the home, not a professional company, and when it mixed with water, the effects were disastrous. At least one of the home’s occupants is believed to have crawled under the trailer in an attempt to “rinse off” some of the excess chemical, accidentally triggering the deadly reaction that spawned the poison pesticide gas.
It is unknown whether Monday’s victims owned or rented the Texas home.
In addition to the four children that died and six additional victims in the pesticide gas poisoning, several first-responders responders also received medical checkups following the exposure to the deadly gas. Those first responders included two police officers, seven firefighters and an employee of American Medical Response.
Investigators say that the none of the responding personnel showed symptoms of Phosphine gas poisoning, but were taken to a local hospital out of an abundance of caution. All were reportedly cleared by medical personnel and not expected to have suffered any adverse effects from their exposure to the deadly pesticide.
Investigators, believe that the four Texas children who died on Monday were victims of exposure to the pesticide gas poison, however official causes of death for the victims have not yet been determined and are not expected for at least several days.
While the poisoning of the Texas children who died from apparent pesticide gas exposure is believed to be accidental, the devastating incident is being investigated by the AFD HazMat team and the APD’s Special Crimes unit.
***Update: The Daily Mail reports that the names of the four children who died in the Texas pesticide gas poisoning have been released; 7-year-old Felipe Balderas, 9-year-old Johnnie Balderas, 11-year-old Josue Balderas, and 17-year-old Yasmeen Balderas.***
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